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The best golf holiday destinations in Europe this summer

Looking for a getaway to spend time on the greens? Get your clubs in order, get booking, and look forward to your tee time

Chris Wilson
Monday 03 July 2023 15:49 BST
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Some of the most beautiful golf courses can be found in Europe, such as Alcanada in Mallorca
Some of the most beautiful golf courses can be found in Europe, such as Alcanada in Mallorca (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Golfing season is firmly upon us in the UK, with higher temperatures setting in as we approach the summer months. Nevertheless, Britain’s pesky rain showers tend to loom, threatening to ruin a session on the course.

To escape this, why not combine golf with your trip abroad? Europe offers dozens of top-level courses, where you can play surrounded by rising palm trees, dense pine forest, dramatic coastal cliffs and the sound of the waves.

In between sun-drenched days spent on the greens, you could be taking a trip to the Louvre or stretching out on the golden beaches of the Algarve. Evenings can be spent sipping cocktails by the sea or partying in town, while downtime can be enjoyed at the pools and spas.

If this idea’s taken your fancy, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to go for your fix of great courses and superb resorts.

Algarve, Portugal

An aerial view of part of a course at Vale do Lobo (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Algarve is the undisputed best location in Portugal for a golfing holiday, with 31 courses – from Quinta do Lago to Vale do Lobo – spread out across both the coast and inland areas, but all within easy reach of each other. Most of the courses are centred around Faro and Vilamoura, though some are located east, closer to the Spanish border, such as Quinta do Vale and the award-winning Monte Rei Golf and Country Club (with a signature course designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus).

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Several of the resorts have multiple courses in this area. Quinta do Lago has its North, South and Laranjal courses, while Vilamoura has five courses (now operated by Dom Pedro hotel brand): Old, Millennium, Pinhal, Victoria and Laguna. Expect sea views, scenic water features and American-standard greens, tees and bunkers on local courses, with the added benefit of staying in one of Portugal’s most picturesque coastal regions (for those moments when you aren’t playing). Green fees in the area range from roughly £80 to £190 for the best courses.

Where to stay

With five premier courses and the beach on your doorstep, you’d be well-advised to stay at the aforementioned Dom Pedro Vilamoura. The hotel has its own pool area and also offers its guest discounts on green fares.

Mallorca, Spain

One of the holes at Son Muntaner (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While the largest Balearic island has several exemplary golf courses, they are somewhat spread across the island, making a single recommendation difficult (though it is important to remember that you can drive across the entire island in under two hours). Several courses are found near Palma, the island’s capital, including T Golf Calvia, Son Gual, Son Muntaner and Son Vida.

The most remote course is in Alcanada, near Alcudia in the north, while the east coast boasts the Pula resort and the clubs at Son Severa and Canyamel. Many courses on the island have pine forests and tranquil water features, with the added touches of palm trees, surrounding mountains and views of the Balearic Sea.

Depending on the type of holiday you want, basing yourself in Palma or Son Severa are the best choices. One will offer you a city break with opportunities to easily explore the island, while the other provides quiet coastal villages with less to do outside of playing golf – but plenty of opportunity for relaxing. However, the drive from the Pula resort to Son Muntaner would take slightly over an hour, so both options are very much possible.

Where to stay

Rooms at the Pula Golf Resort are affordable for the area (and the activity), with discounts on green fees available for guests. Other courses are located within a 10-minute drive, while those wanting to explore further can head towards Palma.

St Andrews, Scotland

The famous Swilcan Bridge, with the clubhouse in the background (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you’re going to go on a golfing holiday, why not play at the same course where the game was first played 600 years ago? The Old Course at St Andrews – just two hours from Edinburgh – is known as the “Home of Golf”; the course was established in 1552 and has played host to The Open Championship 30 times (most recently in 2022). While the opportunity to play this public course is attractive enough, St Andrews Links also offers six other courses across its site (one of which is a nine-hole course designed for beginners and families). The New Course and Jubilee Course (opened in 1895 and 1897, respectively) are the other two championship courses on the Links, with the Jubilee said to be the most difficult.

Green fees range from a high of £295 for the Old Course in high season to £45 for the Strathtyrum Course (high season runs from mid-April to mid-October; the Jubilee and New courses are both £130 during high season). While the Old Course has some of golf’s most recognisable features (such as the Swilcan Bridge and Hell Bunker), other courses will offer you rugged cliff tops, sweeping views of the sea and St Andrews and picturesque courses full of testing features.

Where to stay

If you feel like committing to a luxury stay, the Old Course Hotel is an excellent option. It overlooks the Old Course and offers Suite Golf packages that include a guaranteed round on the Old Course, one on the Jubilee, New or Castle course and three other rounds in link courses (plus two dinners and a spa treatment).

Andalusia, Spain

A view over part of the Real Sotogrande golf course (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Andalusia is well-known for its cities, as Seville and Malaga, but it is also a tremendous destination for golfers looking for guarantees of sun and dry weather. While neighbouring Murcia also carries a great golfing reputation, the warmth and lack of rain in Andalucia in March, April and October means that this region just edges it during traditional shoulder seasons, when crowds will be fewer and green fees lower.

According to the region’s official tourism website, there are almost 120 courses in Andalusia, more than half of which are found in the Costa del Sol. This southern area makes the best base for a golf trip, with world-renowned courses such as Real Valderrama and Finca Cortesin (the host of 2023’s Solheim Cup). Other notable courses include La Zagaleta and Real Sotogrande; if you do choose to play these, you’ll be following in the footsteps of legends such as Tiger Woods as you navigate championship-level courses (though this comes with a sometimes-hefty green fee).

Where to stay

Finca Cortesin offers a taste of the “professional” golf lifestyle, having repeatedly been named as one of the best resorts in Europe (with its course consistently ranking among the best in the continent, too). Its Andalusian architecture and colourful courtyards perfectly complement its beachside pool area, offering a slice of southern Spanish luxury.

Belek, Turkey

Antalya is where you’ll find the finiestNin Turkey (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While Turkey itself has a wealth of cities and shore to explore, the country’s golf is centred in the Antalya region, specifically Belek on the Mediterranean coast. While the country may not be as renowned for golf as others in Europe (its golf federation has only existed since 1996), sublime weather, golden beaches and inviting waters mean that many flock to its shores for a holiday that mixes sport with relaxation.

Belek is home to many of Turkey’s best golf courses, including the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Carya, Cornelia (designed by Nick Faldo) and the two courses at Antalya Golf Club (Pasha and the PGA Sultan). Visitors can expect them to range from traditional-style courses based on English heathland, and pine and eucalyptus trees, to broad dunes and several water features.

Where to stay

The Kaya Palazzo is a cheaper (though not cheap) alternative to other hotels in the area (many of which are attached to courses). Nevertheless, it is still a luxury offering, with a 200m section of private beach, five restaurants and several swimming pools.

Ile-de-France, France

The Palace of Fontainebleau is just one many local attractions near the region’s golf courses (Getty Images)

The Ile-de-France region is mostly known for being the country’s main administrative region, with Paris as its centrepiece. However, the city’s suburbs contain several of the country’s premier golf courses. The exclusive Morfontaine remains a members-only club, but excellent courses such as Chantilly, Fontainebleau and Le Golf National (whose Albatros course hosted the 2018 Ryder Cup and will host the golf tournament at the 2024 Olympics) are all within an hour’s drive of the city centre.

Courses here are surrounded by charming forests of beech, oak and pine, ancient walls and state-of-the-art facilities, with varying lengths of course, some of which stretch to over 7,000 yards. Green fees in the area can reach up to £180 (for L’Albatros), but most are fairly modest at between £85 and £95.

Where to stay

The Novotel Saint-Quentin is the resort hotel for Le Golf National, where guests can play any of the club’s three courses. Package deals for a one-night stay and L’ Albatros green fee start at a bargain price of just £150.

Read more reviews of the best hotels in Europe

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